Ode to Diablo
Need a Diablo fix on mobile while awaiting the long-anticipated Diablo Immortal? Then Anima ARPG (2019) is for you. Anima is a well thought out Dungeon crawl RPG with seamless, engaging combat, near-flawless controls and a simplistic crafting system. Artistic top-down graphics and a macabre score set the mood. In a media saturated with mediocre games, Anima ARPG shines. It’s a gem of a dungeon crawler with only a few rough edges.
Anima serves up the classic RPG character classes, giving you the option to play a warrior, mage or rogue. Per usual, each class has its personal strengths and abilities. Such as the sorcery class’s teleport ability or skirmish class, whirlwind ability.
Don’t Expect Anyone to Hold Your Hand
Exilium Games doesn’t seem to believe in holding the player’s hand, which is both refreshing and frustrating. Can’t find an object? Keep looking. Just can’t beat a boss? Figure it out. In this way, Anima ARPG is the epitome of a hardcore dungeon crawl. Though there are few boss battles, each provides a unique challenge. Often when you reach a boss, you will find yourself woefully unprepared. Bosses are impossible to beat without strategy and patience. For some, this might be a deterrent. And though I did find it tiresome at times, it also kept me engaged as I found myself developing different tactics to defeat Anima’s bosses. Despite any frustration, the joy of beating a boss after hours of failed attempts is euphoric.
Grinding is required to gain a high enough level to stand a chance in any boss battle. Unfortunately, enemies only respawn after you quit the game and reload your save game. Constantly quitting and relaunching the game to bring back the baddies gets annoying fast. While the game is fun, it does get stale when you spend an hour grinding to reach a level capable of defeating the next boss.
There are no quest markers to guide you in Anima. While the game is linear, it can be easy to miss an item needed to complete a side quest. I spent hours searching the cave levels for a bowl of water. Unfortunately, yelling “Accio bowl of water” at my phone didn’t have the desired effect. While the lack of quest markers can be frustrating in these circumstances, my frustration was greatly outweighed by my sense of accomplishment upon finding my objective. I never thought I’d be so happy to find a bowl of water in an underground cave.
A Macabre Dungeon Adventure
As you level up and gain new abilities, you can assign them (up to three at a time) to on-screen buttons on the game’s virtual joystick. The controls feel intuitive here, and character movement responds fluidly. The on-screen buttons never seem in the way as they do in some mobile games. My sorcerer proved a master of fire and ice, calling firestorms forth from the sky and summoning meteors to smite his foes. He also came with a frost aura, which slows down the movement of nearby enemies.
Enemies vary from run of the mill zombies to electrified monstrosities known as Scorched Ones. Some enemies are surrounded by auras that can enhance their abilities or weaken yours. A fire aura may surround your foe in flames dealing damage if you get to close. Most infuriating aura is the cursed aura, which cuts the player’s health down by about half while your character is in range.
Anima isn’t bogged down by microtransactions. The only possible in-app purchase is the Gift of The Demons, which for $0.99 entitles the player to one auto upgradable weapon per class, three additional character slots, and two additional stash tabs, which triple the number of items your character can store.
A Hollow Story
The storyline, however, is sparse and a bit hollow. Though it easy to ignore the plot as it has no effect on the gameplay, it’s rather vague to the point of I’m not sure if I followed it at all. You play as an adventurer who, according to the hooded figure in the woods, who I am still not convinced isn’t a death eater, needs to redeem himself. What did my character do that requires redemption? Your guess is as good as mine.
However, the intoxicating gameplay more than makes up for the lack of plot. I found myself playing for hours on end, staying up way past my self-inflicted bedtime. The varied enemies and unique levels kept me interested throughout the entire campaign. One group of levels takes you through an underground cavern (Keep an eye out for that bowl of water!). Another takes place in a sinister arcane passageway. Each level has a distinct look while adhering to the same morbid style.
Crafting and New Game Plus
Anima also has a basic crafting system. While there is nothing spectacular about crafting in Anima it is a simple system that is easy to pick up on. In typical Diablo-clone fashion, there are five types of items: common, magic, epic, rare, and legendary. You can sacrifice Epic or Legendary items to strengthen an item of the same class and tier. Armor and weapons sometimes have sockets in which you can place gems to augment your equipment.
Anima ARPG has a replay system, which is essentially a New Game+ mode except for the fact that all the quests still show up in your journal as completed. Though I would prefer the quests be playable in New Game+, it is still fun replaying the game against stronger enemies.
Anima ARPG is a solid mobile RPG with enticing graphics and fun gameplay. While the storyline is lacking, the gameplay is fun, and the environments are intriguing enough to keep you interested throughout the campaign. Grinding can be a pain, especially since you must quit the game before enemies respawn. Still, Anima has a lot more going for it than it does against it. While it is not Diablo, Anima ARPG may be as close as you can get to Diablo on Android for now.
Is It Hardcore?
Though the storyline lacks depth, Anima manages to rise above the horde of mediocre dungeon crawlers littering Google Play. With its engaging combat, diverse enemies, and haunting soundtrack, Anima is sure to hold your attention for quite some time.